University of Southern California

New Study - CREATE Study Concludes Significant Impact on Travel Volume due to Passport Inspection Times

Date: March 10, 2014

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March 10, 2014 - The National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) today released a study that analyzes the impact of passport inspection times on airline passenger volume at four major U.S. international airports. The key results of the study reflect the economic impacts of adding additional CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) - Office of Field Operations (OFO) officers.

The study finds that, on net, adding 14 officers to the inspection sites at the four airports is likely to result in an $11.8 million increase in GDP and 81 additional jobs in an upper-bound case. Adding sufficient officers to achieve a 50% reduction in wait time is likely to result in a $95.4 million increase in GDP and 539 additional jobs in an upper-bound case. Study results also include the value of wait time saved to existing passengers, with an upper-bound of $9 million for adding the 14 officers. According to CREATE economist Adam Rose, "Alleviating traveler bottlenecks at U.S. airports is a sound investment."

This study extends the research of "The Impact on the U.S. Economy of Changes in Wait Times At Ports of Entry" completed on March 31, 2013 by a CREATE research team on the economic impacts of wait times at U.S. ports of entry (see Roberts, et al. 2013). That study concluded that adding 33 CBP officers (1 at each of the selected 33 land and airport locations studied) will potentially lead to an increase in GDP of $61.8 million and employment gains of 1,053 jobs in the U.S.

This new study extends the earlier project in several ways. It evaluates how change in passport inspection wait time at U.S. international airports impacts the number of passengers traveling by air to and from the U.S. It also evaluates trends in the volume of international air travelers arriving at U.S. airports and implications for CBP-OFO resources, the impact of passport inspection wait time on missed flight connections at international airports, and CBP-OFO management of existing passport inspection resources.

According to lead author Bryan Roberts, "Study results suggest that CBP-OFO generally manages its available inspection resources well in response to changing conditions at U.S. airports, and that wait time outcomes are driven primarily by overall availability of resources and factors outside of CBP-OFO's control."

This study was completed by a team of CREATE researchers including Bryan Roberts, Steve McGonegal, Fynnwin Prager, Dan Wei, Adam Rose, Charles Baschnagel, Timothy Beggs, and Omeed Baghela.

About CREATE

Established in 2004, CREATE is a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence funded by Science & Technology Directorate, Office of University Programs, and based at the University of Southern California in the Sol Price School of Public Policy and the Viterbi School of Engineering.